Missing agency plans hinder Y2K cost projections

Although under pressure to estimate the total cost of the Year 2000 computer problem, the Office of Management and Budget cannot determine if additional funding is needed because most federal agencies did not submit their contingency plans with cost estimates on time, the OMB director said today.

During testimony before the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, OMB director Jacob Lew said a majority of agencies missed the June 15 deadline to submit Year 2000 backup plans for possible emergencies, and the plans that were turned in did not provide cost estimates.

Lew said he should receive more contingency plans in the next "several weeks," but he could not provide an exact date. "I wish I can say I will have all the plans June 30," Lew said. "I will get back with you after reviewing the contingency plans."

According to the General Accounting Office, federal spending on Year 2000 readiness is estimated to be $8.7 billion, up from the initial $2.3 billion estimate in February 1997, and may continue upward after Jan. 1, 2000.

"Unfortunately, the current pace of contingency planning presents us with another blind spot as far as congressional oversight is concerned," the committee chairman, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), said. "[The agencies'] failure to submit contingency plans not only deprives us of any confidence we might have in their ability to handle Y2K-induced emergencies but also prevents OMB, GAO and the Congress from estimating how much contingency plans may cost."

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